2 Dec 2008
Where are the bodies ?
See New Scientist of 6 Nov 2008 p40 .
An interesting little problem .
There is a dearth of Mesolithic (circa 15 000 to 8 000 years ago) human skeletons in England . Even Neanderthals practiced some funerary rites , even if it only involved eating granny's stringy carcass salted with tears .
Let us step back to about 12 000 years ago . The lower sea-level (due to all the water locked-up in the ice-masses in the ice-age) made south-east England and the continent a contiguous land-mass . The English channel did not exist . In today's North Sea was a low lying 23 000 sq km landmass called Doggerland , nearly as big as England .
This has been mapped (see British Archaeological Reports number 31 , Archaeopress 2007 , by Gaffney et al) using seismic data from oil exploration companies .
Ireland was also contiguous with England (with maybe a narrow channel)
The Gulfstream meant that the southwestern regions had a fairly balmy climate . This became rapidly worse as you moved northwards . What is today England and Ireland were the highlands , ranging from heavily forested in the south to tundra and ice to the north .
Agriculture or domesticated animals had not arrived yet . Humans existed , and existed very well by fishing , fowling and hunting(mostly small game) . In the warmer and more fecund areas to the south , they were sedentary . As the living became more marginal in the colder areas to the north , nomadism increased .
Doggerland was a low-lying , marshy area teeming with birdlife and small game . Fishing abounded in the shallow waters .
If the trench between Ireland and England was open , the gulfstream would have branched up it . The surrounding areas would have been even more of a hunter-gatherer's paradise than Doggerland .
Population densities .
These can be surprisingly large , approaching agricultural levels . See Amerindian population levels in California pre-Spanish . At these levels it involves heavy use of what we call "sustainable ecological principles" . It really is farming , but not involving agriculture .
We are talking about a period of at least 5 000 years here , so there was plenty of time for the population to approach Malthusian and technological limits .
But the populations would be mostly around the coasts .
Funerary practices .
Being humans , every community would have different ones .
Recycling would be popular (cf Hindu , Pacific , African or Evenk sky-burial , where vultures do the honours) .
Burial , sea-burial , cremation , you name it .
Tsunamis were the major culprit .
As the temperature increased , big dams of melt-water built up behind the moraine-dams of the large glaciers bordering the north-sea . As they broke , huge waves washed over Doggerland without any warning whatsoever .
Underwater landslides contributed , as well as tectonic activity caused by plate-rebound as the ice burden eased .
Anything human was simply washed away . This included any graves . Any bones would have ended up on the bottom of the North Sea . Trawlers have dredged up human bones for more than a century .
About 9 000 years ago : the Irish Sea forms .
About 8 000 years ago : Doggerland disappears . The North Sea breaks through to form the English Channel . A huge mass of icy North Sea low-salinity water scoured a deep channel past Dover . This would have changed the weather for at least one season , as well as killed most sea-life .
Most surviving humans would have perished of hunger . (They had little in the way of food preservation , or reason to do so .)
Warfare for food left very few survivors .
(Present human civilizations would not survive such a fluctuation either.)
Note that the three known Mesolithic burial sites are on very high ground .
The tsunamis continued for a thousand years or more . The survivors prudently avoided low-lying areas and eked out a miserable existence on the fortified hilltops . Things gradually improved as the climate became warmer and more stable . The tsunamis became infrequent . Immigrants from the continent brought the agricultural and domesticated animal civilization packages (a-la-Jared Diamond) .
Before you could say New Economic Paradigm , they were building graves that could not be washed away and seismic observatories .
(See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Nazca Lines and seismic prediction" )
This depends on their ship-building technology .
Even a small town can build sea-worthy ships .
The Vikings did it . So did the Greeks . Just about any civilization has done it . The question was: " Is there a profit in it?" A reason , apart from normal human inquisitiveness .
Trade (Cornish gold , tin and copper for Egyptian textiles springs to mind .) The foundations of the Bronze Age .
They had only to hug the coast around to Gibraltar to get into the Med .
Doggerland's major population centres would have been south of London , in the present English Channel .
The catastrophes described above did not happen all at once .
They would have seen their land being eaten up by the rising sea in the south and washed away by tsunamis in the north . (A bit like Florida).
Most would have stayed , assured by their priests and rulers that everything is under control . Those who left would not have gone to England , Ireland or France (too inhospitable) . Spain was better , but not very defensible . An island in a warm climate close to their main trading partner , Egypt ,would be ideal . Crete .
They would already have had trading outposts on Crete . The whole process probably took place about 8 000 to 9 000 years ago .(ie 6 000BC to 7 000BC) .
The Minoan and Egyptian civilizations then developed pari-passu into the Bronze Age .
Which is why the repopulation of England and Ireland proceeded so rapidly . The Minoans had ships and knew where all the mineral deposits were .
(You didn't think you were getting away without another Atlantis , did you ?)
Plato's description of the destruction of Atlantis sounds like a horrified eyewitness account of a survivor of a tsunami . That rings true .
But he got it from an Egyptian source after about 5 000 years , who in turn got it from an Atlantean source . The periods involved get blurry .
Another puzzling feature is his insistence that the Atlanteans warred against the Athenians . The times don't match , even in his time-line .
But , remember , he was quoting an Egyptian account . From their viewpoint , Athenians were people from Athens (more specifically , the fortress of Akropolis) , not necessarily even Greeks .
The Akropolis had been a fortress since time immemorial .
He was also insistent that Atlantis was an imperially aggressive naval power . This fits in with the above speculation .
The Minoans aggressively established a trading empire across the Med .
An Outpost-Model , later copied by the Phoenicians , Portuguese , Dutch , etc. Characteristic of Sea Powers .
Thera was a Minoan colony . Both it and the Minoan civilization was devastated by the explosion of the island and the resultant tsunamis on Crete .
An anomaly .
They were not molested by the Minoans or the Greeks . Even the Romans incorporated most of their civilization .
Likely a fundamentalist religious splinter group of the Minoans (ie Atlanteans) .
The timing seems about right . But well after the diaspora .
This would explain why the Romans were so determined to eradicate British Druidism . Normally , they tolerated just about any religion of a subject people (especially in the Republican era)
But Julius Caesar and all subsequent emperors went out of their way to destroy British Druidism . This is understandable if some of the Mysteries they took over from the Etruscans included religious beliefs about the Old Country . British Druidism would seem an abomination to them .
If you look carefully at Etruscan architecture (called Tuscan now) , you can see correlations with Minoan , Karnak and Carnac styles .
The Egyptians and Greeks were great copy-cats .
Look at the columns of their temples . They were too cheapskate to copy the taper from top-to-bottom Minoan look , so they tacked that ridiculous little flourish on top (see Ionion , Corinthian , Karnak styles)
The western feng-shui . Not a well-known fact .
There is an extensive and well-developed western geomancy directly derived from the Etruscans via the Romans . The Greek version derived from the Minoans .
All cathedrals , without exception , were built according to these principles .
A whole plethora of rules about ratios , alignment with magnetic poles , etc , etc .
Most good architects are well aware of them , and keep to them . They usually make sense , and clients insist on them .
Traces of Atlantis.
If they used monoliths as pillars , the distinctive Minoan taper might be picked up on deep-sonar , deep-radar or gravitic sensors in the English Channel . Some elements might have been buried under deep silt from the Doggerland ground-mass , but the scouring action of the flood as the English Channel formed makes any small-piece survival unlikely . At the edges , maybe .
Their ship-building technology and architecture was copied quickly . There was no high-tech .
The only drawback is English snobbery . If it comes out that Atlantis was a suburb of London , we will never hear the end of it .